As the wordsmithing process continues, I find great ideas in the oddities of mundane life and take them to new heights.
Favorite Halloween movie:
That’s a hard one. There are some great ones out there like Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery and the Exorcist and the Shining are classics that will never get old. However, one of my favorites from the last few years is Hostel. Saw was decent, but got to be a bit too gory without as much scare. Hostel kept the shocks going through to the end.
Now this is a hard one. I’ve had a few recurring dreams that have scared the pants off me. The most recent that truly scared me began last year. I was hiding in the basement of a strange old house with wood paneled walls, trying to sneak around and find a way out when I stumble on a room that looks like a makeshift laboratory with a wild-haired man muttering and tramping back and forth. I sneak past and eventually have to hide from people searching the dark hallways for me. I huddle in a corner, perched atop some built-in shelving and find myself next to an odd, square window. Through it, I see a large bestial man the size of an ogre with lopsided shoulders and huge, grotesque arms that hang to his knees. He’s manacled and struggling in the room, banging on the aluminum medical table and flailing around. His dark skin is almost overgrown with ragged black hair making him appear to be some horrendously mutated Neanderthal with one heck of a temper. The sight of him has me wondering if I should flee or continue watching more when strong fingers grab my shoulder and spin me around. I topple from my crouched position, landing on my butt, but always wake up before I get to see the face of the person hovering over me. I believe this dream started around Halloween of last year, and now I can’t forget it. The fear gripping me in the pit of my stomach always returns when I think back on the dream.
When you opened your trick-or-treat bag at the end of Halloween night, what candy was the one that would excite you most?
I loved Jolly Ranchers and Reeses. Later they came out with the flavored Tootsie Rolls and they soon became picked over before all the rest. I was never a big fan of candy corn and more traditional Halloween Candy, but once an old lady answered the door with freshly made candied and caramel apples on a stick. Now that was a Halloween treat I never forgot. Don’t guess that happens much anymore with the fear of poisoned candy and everything else. It’s a shame.
When you were a kid, where were the monsters hiding? Under your bed, in the closet, outside your bedroom window...
The closet was a common one for me, but the worst place I expected monsters to be was directly under my sheets. I think I saw a movie once when I was younger about ghosts forming right under the sheets or monsters crawling up the sides of your bed and under the sheets, tunneling right at you like they’re reenacting a new Tremors movie. Even now, a few months ago I was sitting in bed reading when a large lump formed in my sheets at the side of the bed. I just caught it out of the corner of my eye when it began tunneling right at me. The fear from years ago leapt up from my stomach and into my throat until the orange furry face and whiskers of my longhaired cat peeked out from the covers.
How your book fits with Halloween:
A Life of Death is a story about a boy who lives with the horrors of Halloween and worse on a daily basis. After enduring the absence of his military father while serving abroad, Alex’s scant memories are all that remains when his father is killed by a drunk driver. To top it off, his mother’s dependent nature lures her into the arms of a violent drunk with a mysterious past. Lost without a compass to direct him, Alex is further disturbed to find that when he touches something someone was holding when they were murdered, he relives their traumatic death, seeing what they saw, voicing their words, and thinking their thoughts. As the tale unfolds, Alex fights to find a moment’s reprieve, a breath of air while struggling in a violent ocean of murderous secrets. Who will believe a bruised and battered teenager? As the number of victims grows, Alex must find his own answers and his own path to the truth. Along the way, maybe he can discover who he is, the truth.
A paranormal coming-of-age mystery about one boy's pain and hardship endured in a small Virginia town.
Losing a father and growing up with an abusive, drunk replacement is hard enough, but when you hardly knew the first because of his constant military deployment, it alters your perspective. As a seventeen-year-old high school senior, Alex Drummond learns the value of family and the meaning of dedication the hard way, but reliving people's horrendous murders does have its upside. Join him as he struggles to find his destiny, understand love, and discover what really happened to his father and the skeletons hiding within his small home town.
October 1st, 1995
The following morning went by without incident. I showered and dressed before Frank and the parental figures got up. The girls were lounging on the couch, watching cartoons when I emerged. I grabbed a bowl of cereal and seated myself at the kitchen table.
“Where you going, Alex?” asked Gloria during a commercial break.
“Out,” I replied.
“None of your business.”
Gloria looked to Abigail for help, but she remained glued to the television. I wolfed down the sugar-filled breakfast and slipped out the door.
Paige lived near my old house. Normally the walk wasn’t bad, but dark clouds gathered overhead. Before I had gotten halfway, the storm broke, soaking me with sheets of rain. Without a jacket, my father’s dark gray button-up was little protection. It looked black and clung like saran wrap by the time I reached Paige’s house. Her place was quaint. It had a long front porch with a swing that hung from the ceiling. I knocked and waited for someone to answer. Her father, a tall lanky man, appeared in the doorway a minute later. He looked as though he had been stretched at birth, but his smile broke up his awkward features and made his appearance almost normal.
“Hi, Mr. Kurtley.” His attitude was contagious and I smiled back. He had always been cordial and was the kind of guy you couldn’t help but like. “Is Paige home? I think she wanted to work on a project today, but she didn’t say what time.”
“Certainly, Alex, come on in.” He ushered me through the entryway. “She’s upstairs. I’ll tell her you’re here. Go ahead and take a seat in the living room.”
I went where he indicated while he disappeared up the stairs. An old television, framed in ornate wood, stood under a window while the rest of the room was furnished with a comfortable chair and couch. The floral designs weren’t appealing; the room had the bright feel of a woman’s touch, but it was a lot better than what I had grown used to. A shelf leaned against a far wall, housing dozens of family photos. Paige was the only child shown in their beach trips and family outings. I was engrossed in the framed photos when she bounded down the stairs.
“Hey, Alex, how you feeling?”
“Yeah, I meant to ask you that myself,” chimed her father.
“Okay…doing better,” I mumbled.
“Can we use the computer in your office?” Paige asked her father.
He nodded and we made our way up the carpeted stairs.
“Thanks for not making a big deal of things,” I mentioned once we were out of sight.
“No problem. I just wish we could do something to help.”
“If Vivian won’t admit to it, then how can anyone do anything?” I asked. “I overheard a lady when I was in the nurse’s office. I think she worked for social services. She said she wouldn’t have a place to put me for over a month, and that’s if they could prove the drunk actually did what I said.”
“The bruises aren’t enough?”
“Nope,” I replied, massaging a tender spot.
Paige thought for a moment as we entered the small room. Before voicing her question, she closed the folding doors and took a seat on the floor, between scattered papers. “Would you want to go into foster care?”
I shrugged, gazing at the wall-to-wall bookshelves hemming the room. “I haven’t really thought about it. It can’t be much worse than it is now though.”
Paige looked into my eyes with the knowledge of someone three times her age, focusing my wondering eyes. “It can always be worse.”
The thought sent my mind spinning, searching for worst-case scenarios. I came up with quite a few. “I guess I don’t have it as bad as some people.”
She nodded before continuing. “Don’t take this the wrong way.”
“Go ahead,” I replied.
“I have it pretty good. I don’t always realize it, but seeing you deal with your family makes me thankful for what I have. I’m sorry for what you go through… I just wish I could give you a piece of what I’ve got.”
“I had some happiness once,” I mentioned, a slight smile finding my lips at the memory of my father. The image of Vivian and him smiling in each other’s arms emphasized the point. How long had it been since she smiled? How long had it been since I called her Mom? I couldn’t remember. “Then a semi driver ripped that life to shreds.”
“I know, I’m sorry.”
“I’m not. I miss him, but what’s done is done. I can’t change it. At least I had those years. That’s a lot more than some people.”
She looked away and tried to organize the chaos scattered across the floor. “I was thinking about our presentation. If we start off talking about what the soldiers were fighting for, and end with how they changed the country, that should meet the requirements for the assignment. What do you think?”
The question forced my brain to switch gears. Soon, I was jotting down notes about pictures and diagrams while Paige searched the internet. This went on for more than an hour when my hand started cramping up. I needed a break.
“Be right back,” I said into the busy silence. Paige questioned me with her eyes. “Nature’s calling.” She blushed at my answer and returned her attention to the monitor.
Stepping into the tile walled bathroom, I again admired her parents’ choice of decoration, the bathtub in particular. It was white and cast iron with the clawed feet of a man-eating cat. Leaning over, I ran my finger across the detailed toes, relishing in their unique design when the dusty smell drifted by once more. I knew it this time, the odor of time-worn leather, the kind where the polish has cracked, but the mixture of chemicals persists in a pungent fragrance. Panic set in, and my muscles tightened.
The quiet of the bathroom disappeared as water rushed into the tub. The sound echoed off the walls. My body and clothes were different, female. The walls shimmered, then, settled. The clawed reservoir was almost filled. I reached over to turn off the faucet, but the sound of small footsteps padding across carpet caught my attention. I turned to find a cherub-like baby standing erect in the doorway to a connected bedroom. The room hadn’t been there a moment before, and the walls shimmered again before settling back into the new configuration. Light from beyond the doorway cascaded around the small figure.
Something’s wrong, but what?
The bedroom separating us was large and spacious, but absent of much light. Dull white light streamed through the sliding-glass door opposite the inhabited doorway. The muted radiance caressed the carpet and the corner of a large bed. I tried to inspect the open bathroom and this new bedroom, but something pulled my attention back to the odd child. I delved deeper into the shadows, attempting to discern the kid’s face, but it remained hidden. However, I could feel his eyes boring into me. A shiver ran down my spine.
Was it the woman that shivered or me? I couldn’t tell, and the thought fled like an escaped convict. The baby’s gaze devoured every ounce of my confidence. Fear erupted in the pit of my stomach as water streamed around my feet and into the carpeted bedroom.
The small infant took a step forward, its self-assured strides squishing in the wet carpet. The movement brought the child into the light. I was drawn to the splotched gray skin covering its legs and bare torso. They were the legs of a ghoul, death incarnate sent to find me.
I held my panic in check for the last few seconds, but it grew as a memory drifted into my thoughts. Waiting, exposed and cold, in the delivery room. My legs in cold metal stirrups. The doctor’s eyes peered at me from under gray, bushy eyebrows, and a silence permeated the room. Nurses sat staring at the still child in his arms. The slaps and electrodes hadn’t prompted it to scream…or breathe. Tears streamed down my face under his pitying gaze. The moment felt like an eternity.
Fear took hold, and a feminine voice tumbled across my lips, pulling my thoughts back to the overflowing bathroom. “No, I tried ... I did…I’m sorry.” The child gave no sign of hearing.
I backed away from the odd figure, inch by inch, until my legs struck the edge of the bathtub. Unable to retreat further, I stood entranced by the morbid child as it moved further into the light. Its minute strides revealed miniscule hands with clawed gray fingers that clutched the air in anticipation. Its mouth stood agape, too small to house the mass of dagger-like teeth hanging over its lips. Finally, the infant’s red-eyed glare passed from the shadows into the dull light. Demonic, bloodshot eyes with sickly yellow irises held me in place. Seeing its prey quiver in fear, the infant sprinted the last few feet over the bathroom floor and closed the gap. It grabbed the hem of my nightgown and clawed its way up with inhuman speed.
I threw out my hands in a flurry, struggling to dislodge it and move away, but the tub blocked my escape. Hungry eyes and drooping lips drank my fear like a desiccated beggar, and it leapt onto my bosom. The checkered blue and white nightgown stretched in its elongated claws, but before I could unlock the air lodged in my throat, panic forced me over the antique lip and into the confines of the iron tub. The back of my head slammed into the cast-iron side with a loud crack, and I sank into the scalding water.
The swirling abyss obscured my sight. I tried to scream, but only a cloud of bubbles escaped. I cast out for a handhold, some way of freeing myself from this water-filled tomb, but dozens of small hands grasped my arms and legs. A few grabbed my shoulders and pulled me deeper. Their tiny claws dug through the nightgown and into my skin, holding tight with the strength of demons. My mouth filled with water. It was as though my lungs were on fire. Slowly, the pain filling my head subsided, and numbness engulfed my mind. I couldn’t move or think and surrendered to the darkness swirling through the turbid waters.
I returned with a start, my hand still perched atop the clawed foot of the iron tub. Straightening up, I pulled away from it and looked around. My eyes adjusted as I assessed my surroundings. The small bathroom with seashells and pictures of sailing ships returned, with the attached hallway that led to the office. The spacious bedroom was gone and sunlight streamed through the small, frosted window at the edge of the bathroom.
“What the hell was that?” I demanded of the room. I stared at the antique bathtub for a few silent minutes. Thinking back on the dream made me shudder, and my bruised reflection was the only thing in the mirror. But even it seemed hesitant to meet my gaze. My father’s button-up still hung over my shoulders, somewhat drier than earlier. My jeans and t-shirt were untouched by the waters in the dream. My mind sifted through the possible causes for the vision. Most of them were disturbing. Pushing the possibilities aside, I left the bathroom and returned to find Paige still searching the web. She did a double-take when she saw me.
“What happened to you? You’re white as a sheet.”
“Nothing,” I muttered, my thoughts still whirling. “I think I got a stomach bug is all.” A moment later, I asked, “Where did you get that bathtub?”
Want more of Weston Kincade?
A Life of Death
Stalk me on:
Spooktacular Halloween Giveaway:
With Halloween just around the corner, I've teamed up with eight other authors for an international blog hop. Join us in the Halloween fun while these talented thriller, horror, paranormal, and YA fantasy authors tease us, thrill us, and share their darkest fears.
This spooktacular event starts October 1st and runs until Halloween. There are well over 50 books to giveaway (mostly ebooks but some paperbacks as well) so there are lots of chances to win!
If you like books that scare, books that bite, books you have to read with the lights on, we've got your Halloween scare covered!
To enter visit: